THE INNER LIFE
Due to the deadness of the Reformed churches and the Brethren, the Lord reacted in the following matters. First the Lord raised up some dear saints in the matter of the inner life. One of them was Madam Guyon. She was among the Catholics and deep in the inner life. Then in the last century the Keswick Convention was founded, and all those in it were along the inner-life line. William Law, Andrew Murray, and Mrs. Penn-Lewis were also in this line.
In His reaction the Lord also raised up evangelists. Especially in the last century there were a good number of giant evangelists. In this country there were D. L. Moody, Charles Finney, and R. A. Torrey. In England there were C. H. Spurgeon and Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission. Also there was William Cary, who went to India. Many of the evangelists founded some kind of mission to send out the gospel. This all occurred outside the Brethren.
THE PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT
Besides the inner-life line and line of evangelism, beginning in the middle part of the last century, also from England, there was the Pentecostal movement. Because the Brethren were so dogmatic and legal, there arose a group of people who did not care for any legality. Within the Pentecostal movement there were dancers, holy rollers, and holy laughers.
The Brethren might say that these things are not scriptural. But many were saved and revived through the Pentecostal movement. In China I saw one who had smoked opium for forty years. No one could help him get rid of his addiction. As a result of one time of jumping, he opened himself to the Lord and got saved. A robber who even the government could not stop fell down and rolled for five minutes. As a result he also got saved. I personally talked to this one, and he told me the story. He was not helped by any eloquent preaching, or a nice sermon, but by the wild things. All of these—the inner life, evangelism, and the Pentecostal movement—were the Lord’s reactions to the dead rituals and dead doctrines.
THE PROPER CHURCH LIFE
Up to the beginning of the twentieth century many things had been recovered: the Bible knowledge, the inner life, evangelism, and the Pentecostal gifts. However, there was still not a proper church life recovered in a full way. Then in 1920 the Lord did a marvelous thing to raise up the recovery of the proper church life in China, mainly through the leadership of Brother Watchman Nee. Since 1920 until today, fifty-one years have passed, and of this time I have been in it for forty-seven years. Day by day I have seen things happen, and what I am now passing on to you is something of my realization as a result of seeing all the things.
Please do not listen to any other talk about Brother Nee. I was with him throughout the years, and he had many long, heart-to-heart talks with me. Today people spread all kinds of rumors that Witness Lee is different from Watchman Nee, particularly concerning the church. Please do not listen to these rumors. They are lies.
I have documented every chapter of the book, Further Talks on the Church Life, giving the day, the month, the year, and the place where Brother Nee gave the messages, because a rumor was spread that he changed his concept about the church life after the Second World War. But all those messages were given from and after 1948.
I have never met a man who was so much for the church. In 1932 he was invited by the Southern Baptists in my province to hold a summer conference. After that time until his arrest in 1952, he was never invited by any denomination in China to speak to them. Why? It was because of the matter of the church. His burden, his ministry, was so much for the church, but most of the missionaries, missions, and denominations could not tolerate him because his teachings annulled the divisive ground of all the denominations. Today many Christians read and appreciate Brother Nee’s books, but some Christian book stores in this country will not carry any of his writings on the church. Yet, Brother Nee’s burden was so much for the church.
I have contacted a good number of Christian leaders, and I have read a good number of books. However, I have never met a person or read the writings of any person who knew the Lord as deeply and who was for the church as much as Watchman Nee. This is the reason that I have been and am still one with him. I realized that he was the person raised up by the Lord for His specific purpose of recovering the proper church life.
The recovery of the proper church life, as was pointed out by Brother Nee, is the recovery of the unique oneness and the reality of the church. In the book, Further Talks on the Church Life, he spent much effort to illustrate and show us the genuine oneness of the church. Chapter four of this book illustrates four kinds of unity, of which only one is the proper and genuine unity (oneness) of the church. This chapter is a classic. He also ministered very much of Christ as the reality and contents of the church.
(The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)